Quick Photoshop Sepia Tone Effect Tutorial

Sepia, seek pronounced, “see-pee-uh”, is originally a brown pigment obtained from the ink like secretion of various cuttlefish and was originally used as ink for writing. Later, a more concentrated form was produced for use in watercolor paintings. Photographs of the 1800’s where primarily printed on paper that was not acid free and as they aged, the photograph turned brown or “aged”.

In modern photography, dyes where used to dip the printed black and white photo and recreate that “aged” look. The age looked is still popular and much simpler and less messy to accomplish in digital photography using photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop.

While there are several techniques and third party plug-ins you can use and purchase to accomplish the sepia toned look in a digital photograph, the technique I explain below is quick and simple and doesn’t require fussing with duotones or quadtones. I picked this technique up from a digital photo lab I use and this is basically how they convert their images to sepia tone.

My directions will be for Photoshop CS2, however, this will work in any Photoshop version on a PC or Mac. Additionally, other image editing software that has a color balance option will work as well.

Step 1

Open your color image in Photoshop. FILE>OPEN (see Image 1)

Step 2

You will need to convert your image to Black and White. I use image editing plug-ins to accomplish this, however, for simplicity, you can use Photoshops “Desaturate” option: IMAGE>ADJUST>DESATURATE . This will provide you with a grey scale version of your color image. See image 2:

Step 3

You’re now ready to create your sepia toned photo. From your Photoshop menu, select: IMAGE>ADJUST>COLOR BALANCE:
You now should see your dialog box at teh top of your dialog box, there are 3 small input boxes where you will input the following information (see image 3):
# First box, place the number 30
# Second box, leave it at “0?
# Third box, place a -20 (that’s minus) in the box

You will notice that the sliders below the input boxes will move toward the Red channel and the Yellow channel. You should now see that your image has transformed from a black and white photo to a sepia toned photo. You can experiment with the tone by adjusting the numbers or sliders, but the combination I have provided makes for a mild sepia toned image.

I have found that the best images to convert to sepia tone are those with good highlights in them and images that are not heavy in vegetation or have lots of dark areas. While any image can be converted, not every image will look good as a sepia toned image.

About The Author

Alyn Stafford is a communication artist specializing in marketing communications and is a Southern California wedding photographer based out of Riverside, California. His wedding photography can be viewed by visiting his photography website at www.alynstaffordphotography.com

Image 1 Color Image

Image 2 Black and White Photo

Image 3, Sepia Toned Photo

Photographing Inanimate Objects

Before I became a professional photographer, I never noticed in an average day how often we come across photographs of anything and everything. Photographs make up every magazine, billboard, clip art, product label and the list goes on and on.

Before I became a professional photographer, I never noticed in an average day how often we come across photographs of anything and everything. Photographs make up every magazine, billboard, clip art, product label and the list goes on and on.

Every time we see a photograph, it’s easy to overlook that there was a photographer, some type of studio setting, a shoot and various other details behind that image. Ironically, the industry of shooting inanimate objects can be just as interesting and lucrative as that of live subjects, if not more. There is no limit to the usefulness of inanimate object photography. Children and families get older and will inevitably require more photography, whereas an inanimate object can have a nearly limitless shelf life, if any at all. The most obvious venue for these shots are of course in advertising, product marketing and all types of commercial exposure. The most successful photographers can spend their lives shooting models in the latest high fashion, athletes in their tennishoes and the most modern of automobiles as they roll from the assembly line onto the showroom floor.

The portrait above is another example of inanimate photography. Still a type of marketing, this imagery uses emotion and symbolism to attract it’s admirers. Images like this use a combination of items and the way they are presented together to inspire some type of reaction from the world around it. These reactions depend on each viewer’s own personal experience, life and loves. Since the public is so diverse, this makes for a boundless target audience. These types of pieces are often used in an environment or on an item when hoping to achieve a certain atmosphere or idea. Imagine office walls, book covers and themed stationary. All of these created from photographs.

This portrait may conjure up memories of their favorite coffee shop. It may remind another of their writer’s block woes, all nighters in college or their grandmother’s old Royal. At the same time, these items can be moved around, one or two substituted with something else and an entirely different product is created, an entirely new emotion evoked.

About The Author


I shoot different things for different reasons. In the moment, while taking the photograph, it usually feels right. I’m not thinking, at all. But even if I know why, at the time, do I really?

I’m a Photojournalist, by trade, however I sketch ideas for photographs; structured ideas of things I’ve seen and things I’ve imagined, most of them requiring a studio. ‘Umbrella’ was something I had seen, which didn’t require a studio.

I was in New York, and it was midnight. I was alone, on my way to Port Authority, and I saw a woman. She was standing under a street lamp, at a crosswalk, holding an umbrella. The rain had stopped and the light had changed, but she didn’t move. She stood there, perfectly still. I remember the light being beautiful, and the scene strange, so I sketched it.

Five years later, I re-created the scene in Santa Barbara, California, where I was living. I grabbed a 4×5 camera, a friend, and set it up around midnight. To get the height needed, I stood on the camera’s case and put the tripod on a small slope.

With two sheets of film, I took a reading. Four Seconds at 5.6! Wow! On the second take, it was done. I overdeveloped the film and printed it on Charcoal paper. It worked. It felt like New York and it’s one of my favorites.

Take Better Photographs With Fill In Flash

The first time that I heard a comment about my pictures and my use of fill in flash, ampoule I had no idea what my photographer friend was talking about. So I just smiled and acted like I knew what he was talking about. Not being one to be left in the dark, though, I decided to do my homework. What I discovered has been an asset to my photographs and particularly to my wedding photography work.

Fill in flash is used when photographing subjects in bright sunlight. Using your flash in the bright light??? Yes! Bright sunlight can lead to harsh shadows, particularly on the face. By using fill in flash, you can supply extra light evenly across the face, while having little to no effect on the already bright areas of your photo. The light boosts your shadows and gives a much more pleasing result.

Fill in flash is also appropriate when your subject is backlit. It allows you to keep the details of the background while avoiding a silhouette of your subject. Your flash illuminates the front half of the subject, while the backlighting usually gives a very appealing highlight to the subject. The third use of your fill in flash is in shady areas. Using your flash while the subject is shaded keeps any harsh sunlight off of them, while allowing you to control the light that falls on the front of them.

Three pieces of advice, though… First, don’t stand too close to your subject or you will wash out the front details. I would suggest standing no less than 5-6 feet away from your subject. If you need to get in closer, use your zoom. Secondly, experiment with your camera’s flash settings. I used to rely solely on letting my camera decide if the flash needed to trigger or not. Now instead, I turn the flash off “automatic” and chose the “force flash” option. This means that my camera flash will go off regardless of the light meter reading if the flash is open. If I think then that turning the flash off would be appropriate, I just close the flash hood. Lastly, if you think that your camera’s flash is too bright on your subjects, an inexpensive fix is to rubberband a coffee filter to it. It’s cheaper than a flash diffusion hood, and you can simply throw it away if you don’t like it!

Play with these ideas! See what you think! Some photographers shoot with no flash at all, while others rely on what the camera tells them. Knowing when to take advantage of what your camera’s flash can do, though, can help prepare you the next time a new lighting situation arises.

If you are in need of a new camera or a handheld camcorder then come to a great price comparison site where you can compare prices on all kinds of things including mp3 players and televisions plus many more electronic toys.

Direct Sunlight: with and without flash

Backlighting: with and without Flash

Shade Example: with and without flash

Water Spouts – Are You Ready?

So I was on my way to begin shooting for my 2008 Dogs of Key West Calendar and off to my right I spotted two water spouts. Like any good photographer (and terrible driver) I pulled my car over to the side of the road jumped out with my Nikon D70, through a 70-200mm VR lense on and started snapping away.

The moral of this story is not to chase storms or throw your car on the side of the road every time you get the urge that something “might” happen. The moral of this story to be ready! Always be prepared and USE your equipment. We all spend tons of cash on our cameras, lenses, tripods etc… and so its only natural that we also spend the big bucks or complex bags and gear covers.

The thing is if I had to pull my car on the side of the road and go to the back of the car to unpack my camera bag and walk over to the bridge the water spout would have been gone and I would have missed my shot. When I drive, my camera is always on the seat next to me. When I’m out on a shoot, my camera is armed and ready in my hand ready to shoot. That’s what I mean by being prepared.

I once over herd a conversation between a student and Pro Nikon photographer. The student asked the photographer approximately how long it took him (the pro photographer) to take a picture.

The Nikon Pro replied “I’m not sure I understand your question.”

The Student said “from the moment you see something, how does it take you to pull out your camera and start shooting?”

The Pro replied: “Son, if you saw it you missed it.”

These are words every professional or wanna be professional photographer should live by.

About The Author

My name is Colby Gwyn-Williams; I am a professional photographer specializing in Pet and Action photography. Photography is not only my passion, it defines my life. I have been an animal enthusiast since my early years on our family farm and photographing since I was strong enough to hold my Mother’s old Nikon F2S Photomic camera. The earth and the creatures that inhabit it have become the visual playmates of my own personal “rabbit hole,” and, like Alice in Wonderland, I would like to invite you on an adventure by going through my site and seeing the world as I see it through the “looking glass” of my lens.



Eye Examination Photograph – Slit Lamp

This is a photograph shot inside an operating room. There was no operation in progress during or after the image was photographed. However, recipe an examination is quite a daunting process for an ophthalmologist, viagra sale when the patient is an infant. Infants obviously tend to get scared of lights being shined into their eyes by strangers!

Anyway, sick as a photographer in an OR, it is a very different experience from shooting in your own studio. For one thing, a medical photographer has to come to terms with the fact that his assignment is NOT the most important work going on at any given minute, and the photographer does have to take the backseat. By this, I do not mean to imply an ego hassle. The fact is, that a photographer needs to understand that he does not have the freedom to set up lighting conditions to his preference. Also, the photographer rarely gets the opportunity to get a posed shot. To put it in a nutshell, a medical photographer needs to have a quick mind, a good versatile on camera flash and an adjusting attitude.

The attached image shows the slit lamp examination of the eye of an infant. The child is sedated before the examination, so as to allow the ophthalmologist enough freedom to perform tests. When the doctor focused the slit lamp on the eye, it provided the right opportunity to shoot an image that would depict the procedure. The slit lamp light on the eye could easily have been lost if a fast shutter speed was used. Of course, a flash WAS used to shoot the image. However, it was bounced off a wall so as to soften the light. Also, the image was slightly underexposed to allow for the slit lamp light to come through. The flash lasts for a fraction of a second, and speeds as high as 1/250 second are enough to sync the shutter with the flash. The flash duration is less than 1/1000 of a second by the way. Now, balancing flash light with ambient light is the mark of a good photographer, be it medical imaging or any other indoor/outdoor photograph. In this case, a slow shutter speed was used to be able to capture the light on the eye.

It is very important for a photographer to keep a cool head in a situation as this. The infant was anesthetized just for a few minutes, so the doctors work deftly on their tests. There are not many second chances if you miss a good image in a place like this, so knowing your equipment like the back of your hand does help. You wouldn’t want to use a new camera/flash model in an OR, just as a good hunter wouldn’t go after the prize catch with a new rifle! Lastly, when in doubt, shoot extra. That goes in terms of number of shits as well as the composition. You can always crop later!

About The Author

Siddhartha Mudaliar, photographer, INDIA

Short films: the writing/directing pitfall

Often seen in student films the writing/directing syndrome is the source of many mistakes that could have been prevented by giving more control over your creation to another person.

Going to screenings of film schools is always an enjoyable experience. It’s a great learning tool as well, as when watching these films it is generally easier to analyze what are the strengths and weaknesses of them, and how they could have been better, than in big productions. I believe that the reason behind this is that the teams producing the student films are generally minimal in these situations, which means that there is less crossover control of what is done. What I mean is that each person is going to do his or her own task and not worry too much about what the next guy or girl is doing. Which results in some mistakes not being prevented by looking over someone’s shoulder to see that they are doing something wrong because you are already too busy on your own task.

Obviously mistakes still happen in big productions, but they come generally down to bad decision making at a higher level, and individual errors are generally prevented by the fact that a team of people performs most tasks.

By watching student film after student film, a pattern emerges. Writer/directors. The majority of student films I have been given the chance to watch suffered that syndrome. I believe it is generally a bad thing for the production when the team is reduced and let me explain why.

When working with beginners, directing is crucial. When working with beginners who think that they know perfectly what they are doing (i.e. film students) directing is critical. According to my previous point regarding individual mistakes, in a small team if each person is too busy with his/her own task to check on what the other guys are doing, this should logically be the director’s responsibility to see that every member of the crew is doing the job right, and is doing what the director expects. This adds an extra load of work on the director compared to bigger productions.

In such a stressful environment, the director ends up having to act even more as a commander of anything to do with the production. Of course some have the luxury of a PA to look after the crew while they are focusing on the actual directing, something often forgotten in student productions but that saves from the extra work of working in a small team.

But even in the ideal situations of the director not having to worry about individual mistakes thanks to the PA, we come back to the issue of the director being the writer as well. Whereas the team has the PA or the director to remind them of what they are supposed to do, the writer/director has only him or herself to get reminded of the story, its mechanics and how the characters should be on screen. There is no balance, and seeing the magic of his or her story coming to life easily carries the director away. And he/she forgets to actually give some real directions to the actors.

Whereas in a situation where the writer is a different person than the director, and very importantly the writer is present during the shoot, the writer can be the reminder of what has to be done and can be here to prevent the director from making mistakes and criticize what he or she is doing.

Of course if you are writing/directing you can still try to hide behind the belief that your story is so incredible that you can’t let anyone ruin what you have come up with. But given the very little amount of writing/directing geniuses coming out of film schools every year, giving away the writing or the directing to someone else could be the best thing to do in order to learn more. Chance are, someone else directing your story might make you amazed of how differently if can be interpreted and fuel your creativity. And directing something you didn’t write could make you so much more focused on the acting and actually making a good film rather than trying to reproduce what was inside your head when you wrote the story.

Image courtesy of Brandon Otto.

Photographing Black Dogs

A better title might be, “Can you find the dog in this picture?” You would be amazed at how many times we can wind up with a photo of a black dog where the bushes or shadows behind him cause him to magically disappear just as you try to get that shot of him looking absolutely adorable.

You are convinced that you could see a black dog separate and apart from the background and yet when you look at your photo, the dog is largely NOT part of the picture.

It’s an easy enough remedy, you just need to be aware that it will be an issue ‘before’ you take the shot, not after you’ve lost it. It’s all about lighting. Funny how most things dealing with photography always wind up being about the light! If you are shooting indoors and can manipulate lights you will have to check your background to make sure it’s not too ‘busy’ or too similar to the dark coloring of the dog.

In the studio I would have a ‘hair light’ at the ready. This is also called a key light and would be directed toward the hair of the dog from one or both sides of the frame and situated behind the dog facing toward the dog from behind. I would set them so they are directed toward the center of the dogs back and higher than the dog so that the light highlights the hair from behind “off-stage” so to speak. Obviously you set them out of camera range and check the viewfinder to make sure they pick up the highlights on the hair.

Try to look for situations in nature when you are outdoors that mimic this process if you need or want to use a natural setting. A reflection from a white wall or white vehicle can add needed light but do not expect it to have the same intensity that a key light would have in a controlled setting.

Now you will notice that I have included two images of the same black dog in this post. The first one I would like you to refer to is the photo of a black dog laying down in front of a show jumping field. This would be the WRONG way to set up an image of a black dog. There is far to much going on in the background and the shadows are to extreme across the dog. The subject gets lost in the image.

The next image for you to look at is the close up of the black dog with the green background. This is the proper way to photograph a black dog. Keep in mind when photographing black animals that not every hair has to be in perfect focus and light. In fact having some shadow can help an image show depth and create character in your image. In this image here you see just that, a heavy shadows across part of the dog and yet all the detail and dog and his character shine through the image.

The easiest method for outdoor shots is to be aware of the background relative to your subject at any given time. If you are setting up a shot in a specific area for a pet that will be brought in at a later time, you can always use the old stand-by, the faithful dark-haired stuffed toy dog, pony, cat, or monkey and light you setting for that. It’s quick, easy, usually inexpensive and pretty efficient. When Fido shows up with his owner, you are good to go!

About The Author

My name is Colby Gwyn-Williams; I am a professional photographer specializing in Pet and Action photography. Photography is not only my passion, it defines my life. I have been an animal enthusiast since my early years on our family farm and photographing since I was strong enough to hold my Mother’s old Nikon F2S Photomic camera. The earth and the creatures that inhabit it have become the visual playmates of my own personal “rabbit hole,” and, like Alice in Wonderland, I would like to invite you on an adventure by going through my site and seeing the world as I see it through the “looking glass” of my lens. ColbySkyePhotography.com

Wrong way to photograph a black dog

Right way to photograph a black dog

Shaped Postcards – A Novelty That Works

Forme cut postcards are a great way to advertise something as they are far more exciting to look at than a traditional rectangular shape. They are also more eye catching than paying for advertising in someone else’s publication. Only a few extra steps are needed to progress electronic artwork to send to the printers for forme cutting. I designed this forme postcard in Adobe Photoshop CS and Adobe Indesign CS.


Firstly, treatment I wanted to create a funky and modern design to use for the forme postcard, doctor so I browsed such websites as http://www.sxc.hu/ to find a suitable image. The client had given me a tagline “slip into the comfort zone” so choosing slippers for the image made sense. I obtained the large jpg image, check took it into Photoshop, saved it as a 300dpi eps and created a path around the slippers. Then I placed the image in Indesign, referencing the clipping path as the Photoshop one. Orange seemed to be the best colour for the background and I placed the words and logo on the top layer. The website address wass meant to stand out particularly, so I used some other colours to highlight words to make it easier for readers to remember.


When printers forme cut around an item, it is recommended that the electronic files you send them are a) the artwork with bleed and no keyline and b) the keyline by itself. Both of these files need to have perfect positioning, so that the keyline is in the same place on the page as it would be in the bleed file. A keyline only needs to be hairline or maybe 0.5pt to be adequate. If the keyline is too thick, you might lose some of the areas you want to keep. In order to work in Indesign to fit text and images within the shape, I copied and pasted the keyline onto a separate layer which I then hid when I made the print ready PDF.


Forme shapes need to be easy to create and cut with, so it is best not to use shapes with long, jagged edges or lots of inclusions or borders. Simple, easy to draw shapes work best – the more complex the forme shape is, the more you will have to pay to create the customised forme. Some printing companies already have a variety of formes they have made and you can always ask them to use one of these as the cost is far less. Also remember that when designing the shape, you need to know the thickness of the paper or card it is printed on so that if the shape is too long, it won’t flop etc.


When I had finished creating the electronic artwork, I sent it to the printers by using a Print Preset PDF I had created in Indesign. It is a good idea to set up your PDFs as low-res, med-res and print res, so that when you send work to a client, they can’t go and reuse it elsewhere without notifying you and paying you first (ie, you send them a low-med res PDF of less than 200dpi – it becomes pixelated if they go to print commercially with it). These low-med res PDFs are adequate for viewing drafts on the screen and when it is time to send an item to print, you can send it as a high res (300dpi +) PDF so that it will look terrific!

Extra Tips & Tricks

* Using drop shadows or outer glows on text placed in front of images helps to make the text stand out better.
* Lighter background colours are better than darker background colours for making forme postcards eye-catching.
* Keep all text at least 0.5cm from the edge of the card or else it might be chopped off (the further in the better).

Fig 1. The back of the postcard

Fig 2. The keyline by itself

Fig 3. The front of the postcard – printing file(without keyline)

Vector Design – Using Adobe Photoshop CS

When you think of Vector design, cialis one does not need to rely on Adobe Illustrator to trace the image. Using the trusted Adobe Photoshop, view you can achieve the similar effect of a Vector Graphic by manipulating the Polygonal/Magnetic Lasso Tool and apply colour via using the Paint Bucket tool.

Firstly, look select an image ( a person, flower or an animal) and crop the unnecessary elements out of the selected picture. With the image in mind, magnify the image to 200% to 300%, ignoring the pixelated edges. This ensures that you can use the lasso tool to line the edges of the image as accurately as possible, as well as to draw the different sections that would require different colours. With that, once the image is back to 100%, the vector image would seem impeccable without any stray lines or colour out of focus.

Secondly, add layers upon the image to build on the colours from the darkest to the lightest shade. Using the Polygonal/Magnetic Lasso Tool, trace the outline of the image and fill in the first base colour on this new layer. This ensures that once we hide the real image, only the vectored image would be seen, without any gaps or empty spaces. Continue to define smaller areas, adding a base colour for the hair of the human, the face of the man, the clothing and the arm on a different layer each, ensuring that any mistake can be easily rectified by deleting a layer, without destroying the entire graphic.

Thirdly, focus on each section at a time, giving attention to even smaller areas like eyes and nose another new layer. Always hide unnecessary layers so that one can decipher the most accurate opaque colour closest to the real image of eg. the pupil in the eye. Using the Paint bucket tool to fill in the colour of each contour of e.g the lips, starting from the dark red on the entire lips, the light shade on the rounded portion of the lips, an even lighter shade to shown light and the 3D shape of the lips and finally a lightest shade to add the extra gleam on the brightest point on the lips. With a step by step procedure, attend to each body part with delicate care in any order of preference, e.g the strands of hair till the drapery of the clothing.

Lastly, clean, add or substract any colour or line from the finalised vector, saving the image under a transparent background so that the entire compressed image can be manipulated to have a different background or shifted in different positions as a solo graphic on its own. The tutorial is tedious – it requires patience to finish a well done graphic. Beginners may need approximately 4-5 hours but fret not, the feeling of accomplishment is well its worth.

About The Author

Alice Wu is a freelance graphic designer, painter, fine artist, music junkie and a fashion fanatic. Her works are hosted on http://pulchritude.a-cro.net , and she divulges much of her time in her pursuit for the excellence in the arts.

Fig 1. Adding Layers to vector each specific body part

Fig 2. Using the Eye tool to hide/reveal visible layers

Fig 3. Choosing a transparent background when creating a new file